We have to accept that all children who have been taken into care will have been traumatised, how this trauma manifests itself will depend on the child, some will be more resilient than others and make a good or amazing recovery, others may never recover.
As a parent of an adopted child, accepting that this trauma exists is the first step, we tend to view physical abuses as easier to deal with because I think we can see them, name them and if we are brave enough talk about them, it's the silent neglect that is much more insidious and so much harder for us to be able to understand. If I look at my family, friends and community we are all people who have been raised by parents that love us and want the best for us, that parenting may not necessarily been the best parenting but it would have been good enough and that in turn means that we have not been raised to raise traumatised children we have been raised to raise children like the children we were.
At birth, a newborn does not yet have strong connections to another human, they will recognise their mother by her smell and her voice but will not have emotionally attached themselves to her. An American study showed that colicky babies fed sugar water during the first four weeks of life tended to settle down however after that initial four week period the sugar water had no effect unless there was also eye contact with their mother. Another study shared by Steven Biddulph in his book "How to Raise Happy Children" tells the story of orphaned babies in Europe following the Second World War, the study by a Swiss doctor comparedchildren left with rural families, who were living in overcrowded, noisy homes were much more likely to survive than those who were looked after in the then modern and clinical hospitals. Why? Because babies need human contact, they needed to be talked too, carried around on someone's hip just given lots of human contact. Babies require constant attention from another human being to survive and for that to teach the brain how develop healthily it has to be positive contact.
The brain is an amazing part of the human body, recent studies have found that it is the pre frontal cortex that is the part that is affected by parenting and if this not "good" parenting the resulting effects can if left unchecked be destructive for that child. At the moment we only understand about 13% of the brain and 80% of that has only been understood over the last 20 years!! Historically we have based our child rearing around behaviour, what it is that a child does, with children in care we need to rethink, it is not the behaviour that is so important but why the child behaves in a particular way and then because we are the adults we have to be the ones that change our behaviour to help these children change theirs.
With my older children I would have like most people used cause, effect and consequence to teach them the right way to behave. This will not work with many traumatised children. They have never learnt to trust adults, they don't know what it is like to be safe and cared for by an adult and they will blame themselves for what ever abuse they suffered. Consequences are unlikely to have any effect on these damaged children, because the worst has already happened. Their loss is likely to be devastating. If you have lost a parent or suffered a trauma you will still have the time before that loss or trauma to help you recover, you will have a memory of what life was before the trauma happened. Children in care don't have this memory all they may have known is loneliness, fear and pain. How do we help children overcome this without them understanding what life should be like?