New Louis Theroux series Altered States looks at the unusual ways modern America deals with birth, love and death.
Take My Baby
California is the US adoption capital, with 85% of newborn adoptions carried out privately, rather than arranged by the state. It’s a highly lucrative business for the agencies, facilitators and lawyers who match up birth mothers with adoptive parents willing to pay up to $50,000 for the privilege.
Louis talks to women choosing to hand over their own flesh and blood in open adoptions. Adoptive parents financially support them through pregnancy, and there is the option to stay in touch afterwards. He learns how poverty, addiction and abuse can push them into making often heart-breaking decisions, and hears from an adoptive mother as she prepares to welcome her son’s birth mother back into their lives after years of drug addiction.
Louis heads to the west coast of America to explore the ramifications of 2016’s Aid in Dying legislation that allows a person to take a prescribed cocktail of drugs that will result in their death.
Terminally ill people who meet certain criteria can take the lethal medication wherever and whenever they want, without further medical assistance. But even for those who want that option, being given complete autonomy over your own death can raise complex questions, making it impossible to choose the right time. And what of those who don’t meet the law’s requirements? Louis speaks to some who are looking at extreme measures to end their own or other’s lives.
Love Without Limits
Louis travels to Portland, Oregon, the heart of a movement seeking to re-write the rulebook on how we conduct intimate relationships and experience family life. Portland, whose city motto is 'Keep Portland Weird', is seen as the US capital of polyamory and ethical non-monogamy, the practice of openly and transparently having multiple relationships that go further than just sex. Louis embeds himself with families who have made the bold decision to open up their relationships in a number of different ways; whether inviting others into existing relationships or allowing partners to seek romance elsewhere. He discovers that for many, more partners means more love and more happiness. But for others, multiple relationships have led to jealousy, upset and broken hearts.