The lesbian couple who lost their custody battle over the children they had with a gay man have spoken out for the first time.

The couple say they were devastated to learn that the father would be given custody of the two children for 152 days a year and that they were “horribly naive” not to use an anonymous sperm donor.

Last week, the Court of Appeal granted the father a joint residency order after the biological mother appealed an earlier ruling.

He will have custody of the seven-year-old girl and ten-year-old boy this Christmas.

Lady Justice Black, who made the ruling, urged the parents to “put aside their differences” for the sake of their children.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, ‘Sarah’ and ‘Jenny’ said they had “lost” their children. The couple cannot be named to protect the children’s identities.

Sarah, who gave birth to the children, said: “Listening to that ruling was the worst thing I’ve ever had to do. There are no words to describe that, and that fear is something every parent must be able to relate to, regardless of how your family is made up.

“I understand some people will see us as weirdos because we’re a same-sex couple with children, but that’s so far from the people we are. We’re a quiet and loving couple.

“We love our children and knew we could provide a solid, caring environment for them.

“I don’t regret what we did. I have to say that because I don’t regret the children, although we do regret the way we went about having them.

“We would certainly advise others not to go down the same route and I’m sure an anonymous sperm donor would have been more sensible. We were horribly naive and did so many things just to keep the peace.”

The couple began searching for a sperm donor in 1999 and responded to an ad placed by the father in a gay magazine. His ad said he wanted “little involvement” in the children’s upbringing.

Jenny and Sarah said they did not want to use an anonymous donor because they wanted to give their children the opportunity to meet their father.

Jenny told the Mail on Sunday: “We had male friends we could have gone to, and one did offer. But that would have meant a third person was part of the package.

“This was about me and Sarah bringing up our children.”

The couple claim that the father dissuaded them from drawing up legal documents.

Last week, the Court of Appeal heard that the father had acted as a parent to the children, taking them to doctors’ appointments and paying their school fees.

But the mother argued that he was trying to “marginalise” her civil partner and “overpower” the children with his forceful personality.