For Jeff, Charles and Greg Johnson—thought to be the nation's first adopted triplets—just making it past infancy was an accomplishment (People 12/31/90). Born nine weeks premature in 1986, possibly exposed to alcohol or drugs in the womb, the boys endured years of seizures and developmental delays. When 1-year-old Charles collapsed on a camping trip, adoptive father S.T., 51, a trucking company exec, had to perform CPR in the passenger seat en route to the hospital. "Once," says adoptive mother Elizabeth, 50, an associate professor of education at Eastern Michigan University, "we had the rescue team at the house Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
That was then. What's happened in the intervening 15 years? "We have been on the greatest journey ever," says Elizabeth. With time, good fortune, good parenting and the help of doctors, the triplets have grown into model teenagers—literally. Now 16, they recently signed a contract with Elite and appear in regional ads for American Crew hair products and Shopco discount stores. (Older brother S.T. III, 27, works for Ford Motor Company.) Says Elite VP Jan Berendsen: "With their personalities, looks and energy, anything is a possibility."
"Modeling has given us a lot of confidence," says Charles, who like his brothers is a state swimming champion and a junior at a private school in Ann Arbor. (The boys also have nearly identical voices, mannerisms and tastes—Michael Jackson and TV reruns of The Golden Girls.) Next year each hopes to launch his own national ad campaign and apply to college. After that? "There are no limits," says Elizabeth. "We just have to let our children fly."
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