Theresa Rahe Hardesty practiced law for over 35 years, limiting her practice to adoptions since 1986. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois in 1973 with high honors and her law degree from DePaul University College of Law in 1977. After law school, she became an associate of the law firm of McConnell, Kennedy, Quinn & Johnston in Peoria. At that time she was one of only five female members of the Peoria Bar Association. She opened her own office in 1980. She also served as a law clerk to Justice William B. Wombacher of the Illinois Appellate Court for three years.
Ms. Hardesty became a fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys in 1993. This professional association consists of 340 attorneys and law professors in the United States and Canada who are dedicated to the highest standards of practice in the field of adoption. Membership is by invitation only. She is also recognized as a Leading Lawyer, which is a distinction given to fewer than 5% of Illinois attorneys based on a survey of their peers, and has served on its advisory board. Theresa authored the chapter on Open Adoption for the 2002 IICLE Practice Handbook on Illinois Adoption Law.
Theresa received the first A Friends of Adoption Award from Catholic Charities in 2007 and was one of 25 Women in Leadership as named by WEEK-TV in 2006. She was also the recipient of the 1992 Landen Memorial Volunteer Service Award from the Peoria Park District.
For Theresa, adoptions are a labor of love and a reflection of her family, pro‑life, and religious values. Adoption is a life‑affirming answer to an unplanned pregnancy, a happy ending for an abandoned, neglected or abused child, and a gift to people who would otherwise not have had these children in their lives. The work began for her in 1981 when someone recommended her to a local adoption agency, which began referring adoptive parents to Theresa. Many of her early clients were couples adopting newborn infants through a private agency; others were foster parents adopting children through the state’s child welfare system. Adoption work was special to her from the beginning, and she has found many of the people she’s represented to be heroic and inspiring.
In the early 80’s, a support group of adoptive parents invited Theresa to speak to their group about private adoptions. At that time, private or independent adoptions were just starting to emerge from the stigma of so-called “black market adoption” with its unethical connotations. Now, independent adoptions account for as many or more adoptive placements than agency adoptions. At any rate, Theresa’s private adoption practice was born. Soon she dealt with attorneys from all over the country doing interstate adoptions. Her multi-faceted practice has continued to grow since then, and in fact it is unique in central Illinois as the only one devoted 100% to adoption.
Today, Theresa brings to Parker and Parker her experience and long-standing working relationships with all of the adoption agencies in central Illinois, including the Center for Youth and Family Solutions (formerly Catholic Charities), FamilyCore (formerly Counseling & Family Services), ABC Counseling & Family Services/Adoptions of Illinois, Lifelink, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, Illinois Mentor, the Children’s Home, and Youth Services Bureau. Also, as an approved DCFS panel attorney, she is qualified to accept cases from foster parents who are adopting children who are wards of the state. She has received specialized training to review the subsidy contracts of special needs children. In addition, Theresa also frequently handles stepparent adoptions, “readoptions” and adoptions of children from foreign countries.
On the personal side, Theresa is a member of St. Jude parish in Dunlap, and is an active lay member of the Community of St. John in Princeville. She has an extensive background as a community volunteer, with involvement as a founding board member of the Center for Prevention of Abuse (formerly known as WomenStrength), which pioneered in the field of services to victims of rape and domestic violence; President and Community Advisory Board member of the University of Illinois College of Medicine=s Pediatric Resource Center, which provides services to physically and sexually abused children; Executive Board member of the Junior League of Peoria; Chairman of the Tricentennial Playground project, a collaboration between the Junior League and the Peoria Park District; member of the Board of Trustees of Father Sweeney School for the Academically Gifted; and was once a member of the Peoria Civic Chorale.
Theresa Hardesty is married to Mark, and they are the parents of six children: Mark’s son Troy Hardesty of Denver, Colorado, Theresa’s son Rob Parker, and Bill, Suzanne, Ted and Emily Hardesty, all of Peoria. They have one granddaughter, Maya.
Honors and Awards
- The First a Friends of Adoption Award from Catholic Charities, 2007
- One of 25 Women in Leadership as Named by Week-Tv, 2006
- The Recipient of The 1992 Landen Memorial Volunteer Service Award