Joe Giudice 'Feels Like a Weight Has Been Lifted' After ICE Release, Source Says

"They're ready to turn the page and start this new chapter," a source tells PEOPLE of Joe Giudice, who was freed from ICE custody on Friday, and his family

Joe Giudice is happy to be free — but wishes he could be back home with his family in New Jersey.

On Friday, PEOPLE confirmed that the Real Housewives of New Jersey star, 47, was released from ICE custody and flew to Italy, where he will continue to appeal his deportation order.

Since then, Joe’s daughters have been sharing the first photos of their dad smiling during their calls.

“Teresa is great spirits. She’s very happy that Joe’s out of ICE and grateful that her girls can FaceTime him to see him and talk to him so easily now,” a source tells PEOPLE. “The kids have missed their father so much and now that he’s free, it feels like a weight has been lifted off them. They’re ready to turn the page and start this new chapter.”

The source adds, “Joe’s mood has changed too. He’s much happier than he’s been the past few months. But know this — no one wants this as their new normal. Teresa, the girls, and Joe all want Joe home in Jersey. They’re praying he wins his appeal to come back.”

In the meantime, Teresa, 47, and the girls are “planning a visit to see him in Italy soon,” the source says. “Reuniting as a family is going to be a special moment.”

Joe Giudice
Joe Giudice. Gia Giudice/Instagram

Seemingly hinting at their future reunion, Milania, 14 posted a sweet throwback photo of the father-daughter pair to Instagram on Saturday.

See you soon daddy,” she captioned the snapshot. “I love you beyond words.”

Meanwhile, Gia, 18, posted a screenshot of a FaceTime conversation between the pair to her Instagram Story.

“One of the happiest moments of my life!” she captioned the image, which was the first new photo of Joe that had been shared in over three years. “Love you so much daddy, so happy your [sic] free! see you so soon ❤️❤️.”

Hours later, Gia FaceTimed her father again, this time with sister Gabriella, 15.

“I still can’t get over this ❤️❤️❤️ I love you more than words can describe,” she captioned the screenshot which showed everyone with big smiles.

Teresa and Joe also share daughter Audriana, 10.

Gia and Joe Guidice
Gia Giudice/Instagram
Joe Guidice
Milania Giudice/Instagram

After Joe was released on Friday, his lawyer James J. Leonard Jr. told PEOPLE that Joe called Teresa and Gia from the European-bound plane.

“He spoke to Teresa and Gia from the plane and he is extremely happy to be released, more than words can describe,” Leonard said.

Leonard added that they will continue to appeal Joe’s deportation order while he is in Italy: “We are still fighting and it is his desire to return home to the United States to be reunited with his family.”

Until Friday, Joe was being held at the Clinton County Correctional Center in Pennsylvania, where he was sent after serving a 41-month prison sentence for mail, wire and bankruptcy fraud. He was released last March, and an immigration court ruled to deport Joe last October.

Joe originally requested to be released from the correctional center to his home with Teresa, 47, and their kids in New Jersey, but that request was denied. He followed up with a petition filed in September to be released to Italy, which was granted earlier this month.

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