The Ups & Downs of the Duggar Family
Viewers have seen the TLC stars through courtships, new additions and no shortage of controversy
Of the 2,460 people who live in Tontitown, Arkansas, none have made quite as many headlines as the 19-plus – and counting – in the Duggar family.
Since Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar invited cameras into their lives in 2008, viewers have seen the TLC stars through courtships, new additions and no shortage of controversy. Most recently, eldest son Josh Duggar spoke out in response to reports that he was once accused of molesting five underage girls as a teen.
“Twelve years ago, as a young teenager, I acted inexcusably, for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret,” Josh, who resigned from his position at the Family Research Council as a result of the accusations becoming public, told PEOPLE in a statement. TLC has pulled 19 Kids and Counting from its schedule amid the reports.
Take a look back at the other headline-making moments for the Duggar family.
Motherhood’s Difficult Road
After giving birth to oldest son Josh, Michelle suffered her first miscarriage when she got pregnant while taking oral birth control. She has previously said it was one of the reasons the couple no longer chooses birth control.
“We named that baby Caleb even though we didn’t know if it was a boy or girl because that miscarriage was early,” she said.
In December 2011, Jim Bob and Michelle announced she had miscarried again. Days later, the family gathered to pay their respects to the couple’s 20th child, a stillborn baby girl they named Jubilee Shalom.
RELATED VIDEO: Josh Duggar Speaks Out About Molestation Reports
Taking on Critics
The expanding Duggar family has fueled the conversation about high-risk pregnancies and whether or not there’s a such thing as having too many children.
This debate took a turn when the family’s 19th baby was born prematurely in December 2009. Daughter Josie weighed just 1 lb., 6 oz., at birth because Michelle suffered a rare condition during pregnancy that causes high blood pressure.
“Every child deserves to be excited they are a part of life,” Michelle said in 2011 after revealing she was pregnant with her 20th child, the late Jubilee, at 45 years old, following Josie’s premature birth. She also admitted that “having this many kids isn’t for everyone.”
19 Kids and Counting has documented Josie’s health condition, including this season when the 5-year-old began seizing out of nowhere. Jim Bob has said it’s expected that his youngest daughter will one day outgrow her seizures.
Becoming Activists for Controversial Issues
The Duggar family doesn’t shy away from spotlighting their beliefs, no matter how polarizing. Just this year, Jessa was one of the thousands who marched behind the the State Capitol of Little Rock, Arkansas, to protest abortion. Josh and Anna Duggar Tweeted their support for the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows individuals and corporations to act on their religious convictions without repercussion from the government.
Love & Courtships
In their book Growing Up Duggar, the family’s four eldest daughters – Jana, Jill, Jessa and Jinger – shed light on their secret to finding true love: courtship. Detailing the difference between dating and courtship, they wrote, “We want to get acquainted with a young man in a normal family setting, where we’ll be watching how he treats our brothers and sisters.”
The family’s specific style of finding that special somebody calls for equally specific rules – including this biggie: No hand-holding until engagement and no kissing until marriage.
Those guidelines have proven quite successful for the family, who celebrated two marriages within the last year. Jill married Derick Dillard on June 21, 2014, and Jessa married Ben Seewald on Nov. 1, 2014.
And more wedding bells may be in the future for the family: brother Josiah, 18, revealed in April that he has entered into a courtship with Marjorie Jackson, 17 – a young lady he got to know when he was taking Spanish lessons from her mother.
And the Family’s Just Getting Bigger and Bigger
After 70 hours of labor, Jill and Derick Dillard welcomed their first child, son Israel David, on April 6.
Now, Israel’s about to get a very special playdate: Jessa and Ben Seewald are expecting their first child. The due date is Nov. 1 – their wedding anniversary.