Although Theresa was born in New York, her parents arrived in Indonesia just in time for the "Year of Living Dangerously," and her family was among the few foreigners who stayed in Jakarta through the Communist coup and counter-coup. Fortunately, she was too small to remember any of it, including the death threats. Her parents started work with the Sundanese years before the term "unreached people group" was coined, and she grew up in West Java, making her a Third Culture Kid or Missionary Kid. Like many TCK/MKs, she has lived in 7 countries for a summer or more and learned—and mostly forgotten—7 languages if you include English. Her schooling included international school, missionary boarding school, private Christian school and American public school, though mostly home school—of the "have these books finished before the end of the school year" variety.
She left for Wheaton College with no visible means of support when she was 16, going on 17. There she met her husband Bruce, who was on a full ROTC scholarship for the U.S. Army. Theresa graduated in the top 1% of the class and decided to be a military wife. The four Sidebotham boys were born on three different continents. After Bruce’s military service and further education, the family headed to Sumatra for seven years.
In Sumatra, Theresa managed a tri-lingual household in a fairly primitive setting. She taught English literature in a university, and helped start a quilting home industry for under-privileged women there. Daily life in their home included her four sons; a small international school that she ran with students from at least four different countries; her husband's office and coworker; her household helpers and their child; and a constant stream of visitors, some from remote villages. Their most terrifying family adventure was the time her husband and some friends were in the crater of an active volcano when it erupted. No one in their group was killed, but Theresa helped evacuate two of the victims to Singapore, and her husband carries the burn scars to this day.
After coming back to the U.S. for family reasons, Bruce stayed in ministry. Theresa spent some time homeschooling their sons, partly to help some of them overcome disabilities, which later gave her an interest in special education law. Theresa started law school with her four sons still at home. Law school was a relaxing change, and she graduated first in her class in 2005.
Theresa was mentored by judges at the Colorado Court of Appeals and worked at a large law firm serving religious institutions and doing general litigation before opening Telios Law.
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