How Much Do the ‘7 Little Johnstons’ Make Per Episode?

First airing in 2015, 7 Little Johnstons is a TLC docu-series focusing on the Johnston family, all of whom live with achondroplasia. Achondroplasia is a type of dwarfism that causes limbs to grow shorter than average.

The Johnstons have been popular since their debut, and a big part of that comes from their “real life” charm. They’re a normal family making their way through the world.

It should come as no surprise that with such a big family, the members of the 7 Little Johnstons clan have some hefty expenses to keep up with. Just because they’re on a reality show doesn’t necessarily mean they’re rolling in dough. But how much do they really earn per episode?

Adoption expenses pile up

Jonah Johnston, Anna Johnston, Trent Johnston, Emma Johnston, Amber Johnston, Alex Johnston and Elizabeth Johnston from the cast of TLC's "7 Little Johnstons" filming a visit to Times Square
Jonah Johnston, Anna Johnston, Trent Johnston, Emma Johnston, Amber Johnston, Alex Johnston and Elizabeth Johnston from the cast of TLC’s “7 Little Johnstons” filming a visit to Times Square | Walter McBride/GC Images

The Johnstons have two biological children of their own, Jonah and Elizabeth. However, pregnancy was very dangerous for their mother, Amber.

During her pregnancy with Elizabeth, Amber’s hips routinely dislocated, and she was at one point wider than she was tall. Amber is 48 inches tall, and while pregnant, was 51 inches around. After this painful pregnancy, Amber and her husband Trent decided adoption was the way to go.

Trent and Amber both knew that many children with dwarfism are put up for adoption, and so they decided to adopt internationally. They adopted three children, Alex, Emma, and Anna, from South Korea, China, and Russia respectively.

However, adoption can be expensive. A single adoption can cost upwards of $20,000 dollars.

This was especially true for Alex. Adoption in South Korea requires all the fees be paid up front, and the Johnstons didn’t have the money available in a lump sum. Luckily, a generous member of their church wrote them a check to cover the expenses of adopting Alex.

Independent and motivated

The Johnston family
The Johnston family | TLC

Despite these many costs, the Johnstons are a very independent and self-reliant family unit. As a matter of fact, their children all qualify for government assistance, but the Johnstons refuse to accept it. They believe they can get by on their own two feet.

The Johnstons want to live within their means, and so they refuse to take out loans for the adoption process, or any other expenses. For adoptions, they relied on grants to make ends meet.

The Johnstons have also made it clear that they want to raise their children to deal with a challenging world, rather than make it easier for them ahead of time. For example, they refuse to purchase tailor-made furniture, utilizing average-sized furniture instead.

What about their earnings?

The Johnston family
The Johnston family | TLC

The Johnston’s net worth isn’t public knowledge yet, but there are general estimates regarding how much their family earns per episode.

Reality television producer Terence Michael reported to E! News that reality television families typically earn 10% of each episode’s budget. So, if a budget for an episode were about $300,000, the Johnstons would earn $30,000 per episode.

This may seem like a large sum at first blush, but the family does have five children to content with, including possible college funds.

Additionally, this isn’t their full-time job. Trent works as a grounds supervisor at a college, and Amber is a real estate agent.