I was holding her yesterday, and she was crying and then she stopped. And I've held a lot of babies, I've fixed a lot of babies. But, I looked down at Zola, and I don't know what it was, but I just couldn't imagine her being with any other parent or with any other family. We've been trying so hard to start a family, and she needs one. Let's adopt her. I'm serious, let's adopt her.
Derek, is that our baby?" "Yes. Yes it is.

Zola Grey Shepherd, born Zola Limbani, is Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd's eldest daughter and child. She has a younger brother, Bailey, and a younger sister, Ellis.

History[edit | edit source]

Health Problems[edit | edit source]

Zola was born with spina bifida. She came to Seattle from Malawi with a group of African kids who needed surgery. She was six months old at the time. ("White Wedding")

After she had recovered from her brain surgery, she had a second surgery to repair a hernia. Arizona Robbins said it was an uncomplicated hernia, so it was an easy fix. ("I Will Survive")

Adoption[edit | edit source]

She first arrived at Seattle Grace Mercy West thanks to Alex Karev's Africa Project. Derek was the first one to take a shine to her because when he was holding her to examine her, she stopped crying and Alex remarked that she liked him. Later that day, he suggested the adoption to Meredith and she agreed. They started to fill out the adoption paperwork and came to the question that asked if they were married. Derek then proposed they get married. They went to the courthouse and got married and then skipped Callie and Arizona's wedding reception to go back to the hospital to spend time with Zola. ("White Wedding")

Meredith and Derek were granted temporary custody of Zola not long after Derek found out that Meredith had tampered with his trial to ensure that Adele Webber got the active agent. However, Meredith brought her home alone, because Derek was mad at her. She told Zola that she had a plan for the day she came home, but nothing went according to the plan. She told Zola she was very glad she was there and they'd figure it out together. ("Unaccompanied Minor")

Two weeks later, Zola was taken away from them due to Meredith being fired and lying to the social worker about the status of their marriage. ("She's Gone")

While in foster care, Zola came into the hospital because her shunt was malfunctioning and that caused an intestinal blockage. She underwent a major surgery performed by Alex Karev and Arizona Robbins. Meredith and Derek were distraught, but they could not see her because the adoption was still under examination. When Alex finally told them the surgery had gone well, Meredith burst into tears and Derek finally forgave her for what happened with the clinical trial. Later that night, they sang a lullaby to her over the phone while Cristina Yang was taking care of her at the hospital. ("Love, Loss and Legacy")

Later, Meredith and Derek got a hearing to try to regain custody. This was probably thanks to Alex tracking down the judge and telling him that Meredith and Derek were the best possible parents for Zola. ("Put Me In, Coach")

Despite this, not long after that phone call, the social worker told Meredith that since their hearing had been canceled, they were probably not going to get custody. ("Dark Was the Night")

However, the following morning, she brought Zola to Meredith and Derek's and told them that the baby was theirs and they had full custody. ("Suddenly")

First Birthday[edit | edit source]

For Zola's first birthday, her parents planned a party with their friends. However, when the celebration for Richard's 10,000th surgery had to be canceled, they used the cake Meredith made for the birthday to celebrate that instead. ("Hope for the Hopeless")

Getting Sick[edit | edit source]

The same day Meredith had to leave for San Francisco to take her boards, Zola got sick, which made Meredith feel guilty for leaving her. Derek promised Zola would be fine and took care of her as she threw up on all her clothes, leaving her to wear a bumblebee costume. ("Moment of Truth")

Planned Move and Plane Crash[edit | edit source]

When Meredith was offered a job at The Brigham, the family planned a move to Boston. However, shortly before they were set to leave, her parents were both involved in a plane crash. ("Flight")

Derek still wanted to go to Boston, but Meredith looked at the condition the others were in and said she wanted to stay in Seattle because that's where she started her family. ("Remember the Time")

Genome Mapping[edit | edit source]

When Bailey got her genome lab up and running, Meredith came to her with Zola and said that she wanted to be around to fight for her kid, so she needed to know if she was going to get Alzheimer's. And she realized she didn't know anything about Zola's genes, so she wanted Bailey to map her as well. ("Can't Fight This Feeling")

Daycare Accident[edit | edit source]

While at daycare, Zola fell and needed two staples in her head. She'd been promised a princess tea party that day, but because of her parents' busy work schedules, she didn't get it. ("I Bet It Stung")

Halloween[edit | edit source]

For Halloween, Zola went as a butterfly. Her butterfly wings ripped, so Derek fixed them with Ben's help. They when went trick or treating with baby Bailey, plus Sofia and her moms. ("Thriller")

Amelia's Visit[edit | edit source]

When James Peterson proposed to Amelia, she fled to Seattle to think. She took care of the kids while she was there, something she found difficult. ("Change of Heart")

Derek's Time in DC[edit | edit source]

After Derek decided to go to DC to work with the NIH, Zola spent some time sleeping in the bed with Meredith. ("Where Do We Go From Here")

When Derek realized what he was missing and said he didn't want to miss anymore, he prepared to move back. ("When I Grow Up")

Derek's Death[edit | edit source]

On the day Derek left for his final trip to DC to tie up loose ends, he was in a car accident. Meredith took Zola and Bailey with her to the hospital, where they stayed with a social worker while Meredith had life support turned off and sat with Derek while he died. ("How to Save a Life")

Zola Calls the Ambulance for Meredith[edit | edit source]

Zola, Bailey, and Meredith moved to San Diego temporarily after Derek died. Meredith was pregnant with a new baby. Around the time she was due, Meredith's water broke on the kitchen floor. She tried to act like everything was all right, but she fell down and was going into labor. Zola saw the blood and asked if she should call 911. This reminded Meredith of the time her mother slit her wrists and bled out in front of her. Her mom then told Meredith not to dial 911 yet. Despite remembering that event, Meredith told Zola to call 911, and she was taken to a hospital. The social worker at the hospital asked Zola if she was the "smart girl who knew how to call 911" and Zola nodded. ("She's Leaving Home")

Return to Seattle[edit | edit source]

After Ellis was born, Meredith took her three kids and moved back to Seattle. ("She's Leaving Home")

Meredith decided she couldn't keep living in the house Derek built, so it was sold and they moved back to the house where they lived when they first got Zola with Amelia and Maggie. ("You're My Home")

Meredith's Attack[edit | edit source]

A few weeks after Meredith was attacked by a patient, Arizona and Alex brought Zola, Bailey, and Ellis in to see her. However, the three of them were too scared by her appearance and the visit was brief. After she had recovered, the family was happily reunited at home. ("The Sound of Silence")

Meredith's Harper Avery Nomination and Win[edit | edit source]

When Meredith was nominated for a Harper Avery, Zola was supposed to go with her to Boston for the ceremony. However, Zola knew her mother doesn't like flying, so she wasn't surprised when Meredith decided not to go. Instead, she spent the day with Maggie learning some anatomy. They later watched from the gallery as Meredith watched the feed of the awards and learned she had won. ("Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story")

Alex and Jo's Wedding[edit | edit source]

Zola was asked to be a flower girl at Alex and Jo's Wedding. They arrived at the wedding to find that most of the guests weren't there because the GPS link on the wedding website sent them to the wrong place. After a series of mishaps, including the wedding planner having an allergic reaction to shrimp and being sent to the hospital, the wedding party and guests then boarded a ferry, where Alex and Jo were married by Meredith. ("All of Me")

Meredith's Fashion Show[edit | edit source]

When Meredith came home with new outfits, Zola requested a fashion show. Meredith agreed to show off one outfit because it was late and they needed to get to bed. ("Gut Feeling")

Bake Sale[edit | edit source]

When Zola's school was having a bake sale, she asked Meredith to make chocolate cookies, not chocolate chip. ("Everyday Angel")

Dia De Los Muertos[edit | edit source]

On Dia De Los Muertos, Zola and her friend, Angela, dressed up and had their faces painted for a parade at their school. ("Flowers Grow Out of My Grave")

Bailey's Birthday Party[edit | edit source]

Zola attended her brother's fifth birthday party. ("Help, I'm Alive")

Thatcher's Death[edit | edit source]

When Thatcher died, he left presents for Ellis, Bailey, and Zola in his closet. Meredith took those present to her kids and told them about their grandpa. ("The Winner Takes It All")

Meredith's Dream[edit | edit source]

Zola appeared in one of Meredith's dreams. In the dream, Ellis told Zola something to tell to her mother, then told her to write it down quickly. ("Blood and Water")

Meeting Andrew[edit | edit source]

While getting water in the middle of the night, Zola caught Andrew DeLuca trying to sneak out of the house after a night with Meredith. Later, Meredith sat Zola and her siblings down with ice cream and told them that Andrew was at the house because the two of them had been spending more time together. When Zola asked if Andrew was Meredith's boyfriend, Meredith said yes. Zola was fine with their relationship but requested that Andrew not bring his guitar like the last time he stayed over. ("Head Over High Heels")

During breakfast, Amelia talked to Meredith about Andrew, and Zola asked if they were talking about Meredith's boyfriend. Amelia said that they were and was surprised that Meredith had told Zola about Andrew. ("What I Did for Love")

Saying Goodbye to Meredith[edit | edit source]

Just before Meredith decided to turn herself in to the police for committing insurance fraud, she sat Zola, Bailey, and Ellis down and told them that she would be gone for some time. Zola asked how long Meredith would be gone, and she said just for a little while. Meredith didn't give them details but assured them that Alex, Maggie, and Amelia would be there for them. ("Jump Into the Fog")

Shunt Revision[edit | edit source]

Zola came to Meredith one morning saying she felt sick. She had a headache that persisted through breakfast, so Meredith took her to the hospital and demanded that Tom get her a CT immediately, reporting to him Zola's medical history. Tom did the CT, which showed that she just needed a shunt revision, commonly required when children grow. He took her in for surgery, which went smoothly. After her surgery, Zola was awake and recovering. ("Breathe Again")

Halloween[edit | edit source]

At Halloween, Zola wore her butterfly costume again. When Andrew tried to help her put the wings on, she got upset with him and said he's not her dad. She later told Andrew that her father had fixed her wings before he died and she didn't want people to forget him. Andrew assured her that that would never happen. ("Whistlin' Past the Graveyard")

Alex's Departure[edit | edit source]

Zola came to Meredith one day, saying that she'd finished her science project and she wanted to show Alex. Meredith then had to explain to her that Alex wasn't coming back to Seattle. ("Leave a Light On")

Richard's Presentation[edit | edit source]

Zola helped hook up Meredith's computer to the television so she and Meredith could watch Richard's PATH pen presentation together. They watched the presentation, but quickly realized something was wrong. He presented, but wasn't making any sense. Shortly afterward, the stream was disconnected. ("Love of My Life")

Covid-19[edit | edit source]

During the covid-19 pandemic, Zola stayed home with her brother and sister, Amelia, Link, and her new cousin, Scout. When Amelia realized she'd missed Link's birthday, she convinced the kids to watch a movie by saying it was Link's birthday wish, giving them some free time. ("The Center Won't Hold")

Relationships[edit | edit source]

Familial[edit | edit source]

Parents[edit | edit source]

Zola quickly bonded with Derek after he and Meredith decided to try to adopt her. Meredith bonded with her as well, but more slowly.

Derek occasionally struggled with being a white man raising a black daughter. He tried to set up a playdate between Zola and Bailey's much older son, Tuck, though Bailey shot that idea down. She suggested to him that the reason people were staring wasn't that he's white and Zola's black but because he didn't know how to do Zola's hair and it didn't look good. She showed him how to do Zola's hair properly. ("If Only You Were Lonely")

When Derek later learned about Maggie Pierce, he encouraged Meredith to try to bond with her, saying Zola needed more black people in the family because he was running out of ways to braid Zola's hair and Bailey wouldn't show him anymore. ("Don't Let's Start")

After baby Bailey was born, Zola's parents worked to make sure she knew she hadn't been replaced by her brother. In order to give Meredith more time for her work, Derek decided to step back from his work and stay home with the kids more. ("Map of You")

Derek Bailey Shepherd[edit | edit source]

After Bailey was born, Meredith said Zola wanted to take him to daycare to show him off. ("Seal Our Fate")

Friendships[edit | edit source]

She and Sofia Robbin Sloan Torres are friends. When Zola was gone after Derek died, Sofia asked when she'd be coming back and insisted on getting her a Christmas present. ("She's Leaving Home")

Notes and Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • She started to walk shortly after being returned to Meredith and Derek, to the great delight of her parents.[1]
  • She really likes her toy giraffe. Meredith first mentioned this when Janet had to take her.[2] Then, Meredith tried to have her walk by handing the giraffe to Derek so that she would try to reach it.[3]
  • When she was younger, while her parents are at work, she spent her time in the daycare at the hospital; her mother said to Dr. Ben Warren that she likes it very much.[4]
  • Sometimes her parents bring her to the gallery to watch surgeries and she seems to enjoy it.[5]
  • After seeing a lion loose in Seattle, Derek bought her a stuffed lion toy.[6]
  • According to Meredith, Zola is very good at getting people to submit to her will, seeing as how she got Derek to wear a princess crown at a tea party.[7]
  • She is left-handed.[8]
  • She dressed as a butterfly for Halloween twice.[9][10]
  • Zola liked to stick things up her nose.[11]
  • When her father asked her what she wanted from Washington, DC, she responded "a car".
  • She and Sofia attended the same school.[12]
  • She is most likely about 3-4 months older than Sofia as at the age of 6 months, she came to Seattle, about 12 weeks after Sofia was born.
  • Zola loved playing cards.[13]
  • She once busted open her knee and had to get three stitches. In exchange, she got three lollipops.[14]
  • She wants to become a neurosurgeon like her father.[15]
  • As a baby, she liked green pacifiers.[16]
  • Her adoption case number was KC2009481.[17]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Episodic[edit | edit source]

Episode Stills[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

References[edit source]

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.