October 19th, 2010
02:14 PM ET
A few years ago, Darcy Schwartz was watching an episode of Lifetime's "Army Wives" when she had an epiphany. One of the wives on the program was pregnant and being paid to have another couple's baby.
"I knew that it sounded like something that I was able to do. I'd had four pregnancies without incident. Pregnancies are very easy for me," said Schwartz, whose husband, James, is a master sergeant in the Air Force.
Schwartz became a surrogate mother. She gave birth to a fifth child, a boy who didn't belong to her, and gave the baby to his parents.
"I knew I could never give my own child away, but I knew I wanted to help in some way," Schwartz said.
It unclear how many military wives are paid to be surrogate mothers. At one surrogate mother agency in New Jersey, Reproductive Possibilities, about 10 percent of the agency's surrogate moms are military wives.
"It's not overwhelmingly high," said Melissa Brisman, who owns the agency.
Surrogates at Brisman's agency, she says, are paid $2,000 a month in living expenses for 10 months. Expectant moms carrying twins are paid more, as are women who have been successful surrogates with the agency in the past.
"We received a living expense for helping out," Schwartz said. "It does change the way you go about your routine."
The majority of a surrogate pregnancy is paid for by the couple who hire the surrogate. However, military wives are not required to tell the government that they are serving as a surrogate, and as such, the government's Tricare military health insurance program pays for the deliveries.
In a statement, Tricare said, "because there is no reporting requirement we have no way of knowing the number of military family members who have served as surrogate mothers."
Schwartz says she felt bonded to the boy she gave up but was happy to help another couple have a baby.
"To see the joy on their faces. 'Here's your little boy.' I was just overjoyed," she said.
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