By Pat Ciarrocchi

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A lesbian couple from South Jersey finds themselves in the midst of a custody battle with one of their sperm donors.

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As CBS 3’s Pat Ciarrocchi tells us this case may serve as a warning for couples who use at-home artificial insemination.

When Tiara and Sheena Yates fell in love, having a family was their dream. But they knew they’d need help.

“It takes an outsider to help us because we are a lesbian couple so you know we can’t do it on our own,” said Sheena Yates.

“When these guys come to us and they’re willing to help it’s so exciting. It’s happy, like yes, we are going to have our family,” said Tiara Yates.

In four years each woman had given birth to a son. They thought documents signed by their two sperm donors relinquishing parental rights before the artificial insemination would allow them to be their children’s only parents. That changed when both donor dads independently changed their minds.

“It’s not fair that you know these guys can make these promises, sign contracts, and then be able to just change their minds, it’s not fair,” said Sheena.

“We gave these men options. The option to say yes I’ll be your donor, or no because I want a family,” said Tiara.

Tiara and Sheena initiated legal action. They lost both times in trial court because New Jersey law on artificial insemination requires a physician’s involvement. Both boys were conceived by artificial means at home.

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Now, the two women are appealing. John Keating is their lawyer.

“You need to be careful when you do this. You need to make sure you seek legal counsel and do it right so that you fall onto the statute,” said attorney John Keating.

“It’s safer to make sure that you have the physician do it so it’s clear that the statute applies and you don’t run the risk of ending up in the sort of nightmare situation,” said Keating.

For Tiara and Sheena, they feel it’s just not fair.

“I just feel we shouldn’t be punished because we missed one little step of the law. But at least we did have a doctor involved,” said Tiara.

“I don’t think it should matter who they hand their sample to,” said Tiara.

All Tiara and Sheena want is to be able to raise their boys as an intact family. They are hoping that the New Jersey Appeals court will agree.

This case may go to a hearing before the appeals court within the next couple of months.

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The women would not identify either of the donors.