The couple, from Portsmouth, met through a dating website in 2013 and married that December. Picture:

She is from Hampshire, he is from Nigeria, and they married eight months after meeting online.

If that sounds like a very modern relationship, just wait until you hear the story behind the birth of Tracy and Peter Akoun’s daughters.

Half-sisters Nyobi and Kenya were conceived using 26-year-old Mr Akoun’s sperm, while their genetic mothers are surrogates Tricia Hunt and Kate Fruin-Smith, two lesbians who have children from previous heterosexual relationships and with their current partners.

On top of all that, 47-year-old Mrs Akoun also has an 18-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.

But while the bloodlines might be a little complicated, everyone is happy. Mrs Akoun said: "We are ecstatic. All you ever hear about is the negative side of surrogacy. But for every negative story there are 40 or 50 positive ones."

Her husband, who came to Britain in 2009, described his daughters as "delightful", adding: "When the time is right we’ll tell them about how they were conceived."

The couple, from Portsmouth, met through a dating website in 2013 and married that December.

They hoped to have their own children but suffered the heartbreak of five miscarriages before deciding to use surrogates. They created an online profile in June 2014 asking for applicants, with Mrs Akoun saying in an emotional message: "Dear very special human being, I am writing from the heart to ask you to make my and my husband’s family complete."

Initially, they were duped by a conwoman to whom they handed £400 (about R6 400). They believe she conceived but lost the baby shortly afterwards and failed to tell them in order to claim the expenses.

But shortly afterwards they were contacted by Mrs Hunt, from Chichester, West Sussex, and Miss Fruin-Smith, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire. Both agreed to become surrogates using their own eggs and Mr Akoun’s sperm, and both became pregnant in their own homes in autumn 2015.

Mrs Hunt gave birth to Nyobi two weeks early weighing 5lb 1oz (about 2.3kg) on June 4 last year, while Kenya arrived on July 4. Mr and Mrs Akoun were present for Nyobi’s birth, but were still on their way to hospital when Kenya was born.

Mrs Akoun, an assistant manager in a care home, said: "To both girls I am their mum."

Mrs Hunt was paid £750 a month for her surrogacy, while Miss Fruin-Smith received £550. Legal guidelines suggest an upper limit of £15 000 a year in expenses to cover costs including maternity clothes, days off work and travel.

Mrs Hunt, 36, a dog groomer, has two sons from a previous heterosexual relationship and two-year-old twin girls from her marriage to partner Cathy, 31. They were conceived with donor sperm.

She said: "We thought we’d help someone else out – it was our way of giving back."

Miss Fruin-Smith has four children between nine and 16 from a previous heterosexual relationship, and a three-year-old daughter with civil partner Rebecca, 28.

The nursery worker said: "It’s so rewarding to know you can make that much difference in somebody’s life."