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Dancing with the Stars

DWTS' Jordan Fisher Reveals His Adoption Story: 'My Life Could Have Been Very Different'

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Jordan Fisher knows he owes a lot to his parents.

“My life could have been very different,” Fisher tells PEOPLE of being adopted by his maternal grandmother and stepgrandfather, whom he calls mom and dad. “It’s because of their unrelenting, unconditional support and love I’m able to have the life that I have now and do everything I love to do and that starts with the selflessness and love of my mom and dad.”

The former Hamilton and Grease Live! star, 23, revealed his family history on Dancing with the Stars Monday as part of the ABC reality dance competition’s Most Memorable Year Week.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

“This is the first time I’m speaking about my adoption story, but I’ve never had anything to hide or felt ashamed about my adoption,” he says. “After almost 14 years in the industry and working to make things happen I have a voice and a platform and it just feels like the right time to share my story.”

The actor and singer says his biological mother was “not fit to raise a kid” when she gave birth to him at the age of 16, so he was taken in by Rodney and Pat Fisher on “day one.”

“I was blessed to be taken in by two most selfless, loving, caring, beautiful people I’ve ever known,” he adds of Pat and Rodney, both 56. “They took me out of any potential environment that would have not been good for me.”

PEOPLE’s special issue 25 Seasons of Dancing with the Stars is on stands now.

Fisher says his biological mother and her siblings — whom he refers to as his “older siblings” — “chose paths that are not great examples. Substance abuse is real and drugs are powerful. They gave me a template of what not to do in life and my parents gave me a template of how to be resilient and strong and pursue my dream and goals.”

His biological mother went on to have two more children — a boy and a girl — and about nine years ago, when they were 5 and 7, they too were adopted by Rodney, a retired power company employee, and Pat, a real estate events manager.

Courtesy Jordan Fisher

“Getting custody of them and learning what it’s like to be a good big brother, that taught me so much,” says Fisher. “There was a massive shift and transition for everyone, for my little brother and sister and me and my folks, but it’s hard to imagine life without them now.”

Courtesy Jordan Fisher

Fisher says his close-knit family has inspired him to one day start a family of his own.

“My adoption journey fully fuels my inspiration, my drive, what my vision of success is. My ultimate goal in my life is to have a family,” he says. “I want to be an incredible father, an incredible husband and take great care of my wife and all my kids and do what I love to do during the day to provide for them. That, ultimately, is what I see as being successful. I just aspire to be even half of how wonderful as my parents are.”

After performing the emotional contemporary number, Fisher broke down in tears and immediately went to hug his parents, who were seated in the audience. “I think there’s something to be said about a document legally proving something that you know to be fact already,” said Fisher. “My being adopted, it saved me — it literally saved my life. … I was so loved. I’m so grateful to them.”

“I love them so much. They’re the most selfless, giving, caring people I know,” an emotional Fisher said. “I get to call them mine and they’re here.”

“That was exquisitely flawless,” said judge Bruno Tonioli. “It was a work of art.”

Fisher was awarded the first 10 of the season and earned a 29/30 for his dance.

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.