KENANSVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Violations have been passed down from the state to Duplin County’s Department of Social Services, and at least one child is caught in the middle. 

Documents from the state show the Department of Social Services received several violations in February of this year. One of those violations has impacted the life of 16-month-old Akasha Renee Brown.

Cindy Miller is Brown’s former guardian, and Brown was given to Cindy Miller when Brown was just three days old.

But several months later, she was taken away and put into the care of her aunt, even though her parents told DSS that’s not what they wanted.

“It’s tearing me apart,” said Norwood Pearsall, Brown’s father. “I just want my baby to be in a better place. Knowing that she’s good at night. Right now, we don’t know what’s going on. But we know something ain’t right.”

“It’s not about me,” said Brown’s former guardian Cindy Miller. “It’s about what’s right. And these parents have a fundamental right to choose the adoptive parents of their choice.”

State documents show that in 42 percent of cases reviewed by the state, the parent’s wishes were not taken into consideration.

“It’s tragic,” said Pearsall. “Because these are kids. So that’s messing up their lives and there’s a lot of things going on. And they don’t know any better. All they know is what’s happening to them.”

After receiving the documents from the state, the department was given 30 days to give the state a plan of how they would change the department.

“I’m confident that there was a plan submitted timely,” said Interim DSS Director Jack Jones.

“I think all parties,” said Jones, “are doing all things that they can to bring about any and all needed improvements in the department.”

Jones said the department has hired for six new positions and done training over the past few months.

Pearsall has a court date next week to see if he can get custody of his daughter.