A couple paid surrogate mothers they met on the internet more than £40,000 to give birth to three babies in less than six months, a court heard.
The civil partners created an instant family of five by going on a Facebook surrogacy forum and finding three women willing to bear their children.
When quizzed about how much they paid the mothers for use of their wombs, they lied to a judge and social workers, the High Court in London heard.
Condemning the online “surrogacy market”, Ms Justice Russell said there was “no going rate” for babies.
Taking on three tiny infants so close in age cast doubt on if the couple had really thought about the children and the responsibilities of “building a family”, she added.
But, after focusing on the children’s welfare, the judge went on to rule that it was in their best interests to recognise the couple as their legal parents.
The judge said the couple were guilty of a “dishonest” and “reprehensible” bid to cover up the sums they paid to the surrogate mothers.
UK law does not allow babies to be bought and sold and surrogate mothers can only be paid “reasonable expenses”.
However, the judge was swayed by the evidence of the children’s court-appointed guardian, who praised the couple’s “excellent” parenting skills.
The babies were all the biological children of one or other of the men and they took “enormous pride and joy” in the youngsters.
The guardian described them as “completely attentive fathers” and said: “It seems like it is what these gentlemen were put on this earth to do”.
“She had doubts about the wisdom of having three children so close together but was convinced by their care of the children and the love and delight that they had in their family”.
The couple had maintained “warm and close relationships” with the surrogate mothers throughout their pregnancies, added the judge.
None of the surrogate mothers were under any illusions that they would have any rights over the children after giving birth to them.
The judge added: “Having heard all three women give evidence, I was left in no doubt that each had acted altruistically and had not made any real financial gain out of having the babies”.
Commenting on the Facebook surrogacy forum, she said would-be parents and surrogate mothers met in groups at the home of the woman who ran it or in pubs.
The judge described the woman as a “defensive, and at times obstructive, witness”, but there was no evidence that she had taken “fees” to arrange the three surrogate births.
The surrogate mothers had played no part in the couple’s bid to deceive the court and had freely and unconditionally consented to bear their children, she added.
The couple’s application to be recognised as the children’s legal parents was upheld by the judge.