Childhood & Early Life
Jill was born Jill Michelle Duggar, on May 17, 1991, in Tontitown, Arkansas, US. Her father, James Robert (Jim Bob) Duggar, is a real-estate agent, politician, and a TV personality. Her father was also a member of the ‘Arkansas House of Representatives’ from 1999 to 2002, representing the ‘Republican Party.’ Her mother, Michelle (Ruark) Duggar, is a homemaker.
She is the fourth of the 19 children of her parents and the second daughter. She was born just 16 months after the birth of her parents’ first set of twins.
Jill and her family are independent Baptist Christians and members of the ‘Institute in Basic Life Principles’ (IBLP), an organization of the Christian minister Bill Gothard. They are devout Christians who believe in participating in missionary activities in other countries of the world and adhere to strict Christian codes of conduct.
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In 2008, she, along with her family, made an appearance on the ‘TLC’ reality TV show ‘17 Kids and Counting’, later named as ‘18 Kids and Counting,’ and ‘19 Kids and Counting.’ The show featured her family of 21 members, including her parents and siblings. Before the show, her family had been featured in numerous one-hour specials on ‘TLC’ and ‘Discovery Health Channel.’
She co-wrote the book ‘Growing Up Duggar,’ with her sisters Jana, Jessa, and Jinger. It was published by ‘Howard Books’ and was released on March 4, 2014. The book provides an insider's perspective on what it is like growing up as a child in the Duggar household. It discusses the influence of Christianity on the lives of the Duggars.
On May 21, 2015, the magazine ‘In Touch Weekly’ revealed the existence of prior sexual molestation charges against Josh Duggar, Jill’s eldest brother. The magazine report stated that between 2002 and 2003, Josh Duggar, who was at the time 14 to 15 years old, had fondled five girls, four of whom were his sisters. Josh was said to have molested them by touching their breasts and genital areas on multiple occasions while they were asleep, and in a few cases, while they were awake. The case was never fully investigated because the statute of limitations on the charges had expired. This prompted ‘TLC’ to remove all the scheduled reruns of the show ‘19 Kids and Counting’ from its airing schedule, on May 22, 2015.
Due to the controversy, more than 20 advertisers withdrew their advertisements from the show. These included major advertisers such as ‘General Mills,’ ‘Walgreens,’ ‘Payless ShoeSource,’ ‘Choice Hotels,’ ‘Pizza Hut,’ ‘Sweet Leaf Tea,’ and ‘Crayola.’ The streaming website ‘Hulu,’ too, removed the entire back catalogue of the show’s episodes from its streaming service. There were several public petitions, including some on websites such as ‘change.org,’ to urge ‘TLC’ to cancel the series.
On June 3, 2015, the Duggar family appeared on the show ‘The Kelly File’ on ‘Fox News,’ where they answered questions related to the scandal. Jill Duggar Dillard identified herself as one of Josh Duggar’s victims. She said that she did not know what had occurred until her brother confessed before their parents. According to her, the release of the police report was a kind of re-victimization. She felt that the release of the reports of her abuse could discourage other families experiencing abuse from seeking help. The entire Duggar family described the time as a dark period in their lives and claimed that the period made them seek God more intensely.
On July 16, 2015, ‘Discovery Communications,’ the parent company of ‘TLC,’ confirmed that the show had been officially canceled and all further production was to be ceased. ‘Discovery Communications’ also announced that it would produce a one-hour commercial-free documentary special on child abuse featuring Jill and Jessa.
Jill developed an interest in midwifery at the age of 16, while undergoing a 12-week course in child-birth, with a friend. This friend of hers was a single mother, and Jill became her support person. After spending some time with the course instructor, she started helping local midwives of her area with handling childbirth.
She started pursuing formal midwifery training on the advice of her parents and friends. On September 15, 2015, she became a ‘Certified Professional Midwife’ (CPM), specializing in low-risk, out-of-hospital prenatal care, birth, and postpartum care.
In December 2015, ‘TLC’ aired a three-part spin-off series called ‘Jill and Jessa: Counting On.’ The first episode attracted 2.2 million viewers, and the third episode attracted 2.5 million viewers, which prompted ‘TLC’ to announce ‘Counting On’ as a full-season series. The first season of the series was aired from March 15, 2016. The series focuses on the lives of the Duggar children, specifically Jill and Jessa, as adults. Josh Duggar did not appear on the show, but his wife and his four children have appeared in multiple episodes.
In November 2013, Jill began a courtship with Derick Dillard, who was friends with her father Jim Bob Duggar.
Jill’s first meeting with Derick was on ‘Skype’ and was supervised by her father, as the Duggar family believes in the traditional ritual of supervised courtship. Derick returned from his Nepal mission in 2014 and started working as an accountant at ‘Walmart.’ Jill and Derick began meeting more frequently and decided to get married. Derick proposed to her on March 29, 2014, and they got married on June 21, 2014.
On April 6, 2015, she gave birth to a son. She was in labor for 70 hours and ultimately underwent an emergency C-section surgery. The couple named their son Israel David. The couple went to El Salvador in July 2015 for a mission, carrying their baby along with them.
On July 8, 2017, she gave birth to her second son. She was in labor for 40 hours and had to undergo an emergency C-section surgery again. The child was named Samuel Scott.