Teresa Giudice‘s daughter Gia is all grown up.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey star celebrated her eldest daughter’s 18th birthday with a heartfelt Instagram message on Tuesday.
“The day I became your mom was the day I found purpose in my life,” she wrote. “Gia, you are such a sweet, gentle loving smart person and I’m so fortunate to be chosen as your mother.”
The proud mom posted a series of photos of her daughter from over the years, including a few of her as a baby and several with her three sisters: Gabriella, 14, Milania, 12, and Audriana, 9. The slideshow was set to Beyonce‘s hit song “Halo.”
“Thank you for being such an amazing big sister, cousin, niece, friend & all the other roles you play, I don’t know what I’d do without you,” continued Teresa, 46. “You’ll never understand how much I love you & how grateful I am. I’m so proud & excited to see where your future takes you! Happy Birthday my gorgeous girl!! 18 — I can’t believe it!!!”
The reality star has been highlighting Gia’s big year on social media, sharing photos celebrating her senior year of high school and a college tour they went on together.
The milestone birthday comes as Gia’s father Joe is serving out a 41-month prison sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud that began in March 2016.
In October, an immigration court ruled to deport Joe, 48, to his native Italy after his prison sentence. Even though he has lived in the United States since he was a child, he never obtained American citizenship, and immigrants can be deported if they are convicted of “a crime of moral turpitude” or an “aggravated felony,” according to U.S. law.
At the time, Gia addressed her father’s deportation on Instagram, insisting he “is no threat to society” and “would never harm a soul.”
“My father did his time and learned from his mistakes,” she wrote. “Isn’t being in there supposed to make you realize your mistakes so you can become a better person? And that’s exactly what my father did.”
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In November, Joe filed an appeal with the immigration court to fight the deportation order.
“The appeal has been filed and we are optimistic that Joe will return home to his family where he belongs,” his attorney James Leonard told PEOPLE.
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