Jill, 30, and Derick, 32, had not been featured on Counting On for the past four years, though several of Jill’s siblings remained on the popular series. The couple’s exit in 2017 came as Derick faced backlash for expressing transphobic sentiments online.
In a statement posted on their website Monday, they began, “Our statement about the cancellation of ‘Counting On’ is a little late because we just learned the news with the rest of the world last Tuesday + this season of life is quite busy for us. We first heard of the cancellation when both a friend & a cousin each texted us after seeing TLC’s statement online. We do not know how long the cancellation had been planned.”
They continued, “It’s been over 4 years now since we chose to step away from the show, and, although we were initially barred from sharing our decision to leave the show, we have opened up a little more recently on our social media.”
Dillard Family Official/Youtube Derick Dillard and Jill Duggar
Jill and Derick, who share sons Israel David, 6, and Samuel Scott, 3, went on to say that they left the show to seek greater “freedom and authenticity” in their lives.
“During our years on the show, we had many great experiences with the network, and several of the crew members have even become like family to us!” they said. “However, we also faced many pressures and some unexpected challenges which forced us to step away from the show in an effort to gain more control over our own lives and to do what was best for our family.”
“The pursuit of freedom and authenticity has been a growing theme in our lives. Our story is still being written, and this event is just one more step forward toward that goal. Our family’s departure from 19 Kids & Counting and Counting On has allowed us to make our own decisions, including the ability to have a choice in what we share. For now, we will move forward on our own terms, and we look forward to whatever opportunities the future holds,” it concluded.
TLC Counting On
Last Tuesday, TLC confirmed that it “will not be producing additional seasons of Counting On,” adding that the network “feels it is important to give the Duggar family the opportunity to address their situation privately.”
The “situation” referenced in the network’s statement alludes to recent public scandals involving the eldest Duggar child, Josh Duggar. Following an April arrest, Josh, 33, pleaded not guilty to charges relating to child pornography; he awaits a November trial.
Prosecutors believe Josh had more than 200 images of children on his computer. If convicted of the alleged crimes, he could face up to 20 years of imprisonment and up to $250,000 in fines on each of his two counts, amounting to a total possible sentence of 40 years.
RELATED: Jill Duggar Dillard Posts About Importance of ‘Community’ amid Brother Josh Duggar’s Arrest
The cancellation of 19 Kids and Counting in 2015 similarly came amid a controversy surrounding Josh.
At the time, the Duggars made headlines when news broke that Josh had allegedly molested five underage girls as a teenager. Two of his sisters, Jill and Jessa (Duggar) Seewald, later came forward as two of the victims, saying they had already “moved on” and forgiven their brother when the news surfaced.
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Jill has had a somewhat rocky relationship with her highly-religious, ultra-conservative family in recent years. Her inability to dictate many aspects of her life ultimately resulted in her and Derick distancing themselves from the famous bunch.
“I never expected this to happen or for it to get to this point,” Jill told PEOPLE last October. “But I’m realizing I can’t put a timeline on healing. I love my family and they love me. I really just have to follow God’s lead and take it one day at a time.”