Hands Across The Water was started by Directors James and Kathleen Nelson initially as an adoption education resource organization. As international adoptive parents themselves, the beginning focus of the organization was to facilitate the pre-adoption and post-adoption process through education and information. The path taken by Hands Across The Water's Directors has led them to becoming a fully licensed child placing agency in the state of Michigan. They continue to provide adoption education as the foundation to all their adoption services. Hands Across The Water prides itself in maintaining that all the adoption professionals affiliated with the agency have been touched by adoption in some way.