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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[]

Health Problems[]

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[]

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[]

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")

Being Babysat by Lexie[]

Meredith and Derek tried to have some time for themselves the morning of Valentine's Day and asked Lexie to listen for Zola. She did and they went outside to have some alone time, but shortly thereafter Lexie knocked on the car window carrying Zola and apologized telling them that Zola woke up and really seemed to want them. They all went back inside and Lexie offered to babysit Zola for the night so that they could have some time to themselves since she had no plans. They took her up on the offer and Lexie babysat Zola for the night.

After telling Mark earlier in the day that Zola was her hot date for the night Lexie carried Zola around the house, talking to her about whether or not she should go over to Mark's and tell him that she still loves him. When Derek and Meredith got home, Lexie asked if they could take her so that she could leave, but Derek told her to take Zola with her and drive her around as she loved that. Lexie decided to do so and showed up at Mark's apartment with Zola, saying she thought the Zola and Sofia could have a play date and they could talk. She then realized that Jackson was there and was making Mark dinner. Mark invited them in and Zola and Sofia had a play date while Mark, Lexie, and Jackson had dinner together. ("All You Need is Love")

Getting Sick[]

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[]

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[]

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. 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[]

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[]

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[]

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[]

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[]

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[]

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 went 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[]

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[]

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[]

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 didn'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[]

Zola was asked to be a flower girl at Jo and Alex'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. While waiting for the ceremony to begin, Zola and Sofia, who was also a flower girl, played together. 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 boarded a ferry, where Alex and Jo were married by Meredith and Zola performed her duties as flower girl. ("All of Me")

Meredith's Fashion Show[]

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[]

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[]

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[]

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

Thatcher's Death[]

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[]

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

Meeting Andrew[]

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[]

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[]

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[]

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[]

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[]

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. Meredith asked Zola to get her phone for her. Shortly afterward, the stream was disconnected. ("Love of My Life")

COVID-19 and Meredith's Illness[]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Zola stayed home with her brother and sister, Amelia, Link, and her new cousin, Scout while her mom treated COVID patients at the hospital and eventually became sick with COVID-19 herself and had to be admitted. 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")

Prior to her mom getting sick, Zola attended her brother's birthday party that year where he stuck his face right in the cake and then licked the icing off his fingers and made a big production of it. This made Zola, Ellis, Meredith, Amelia, Link, and Maggie laugh. Zola laughed so hard she peed her pants which just made everyone laugh even harder. ("Breathe")

When Meredith ended up in a coma on a ventilator due to COVID-19, Zola overheard Amelia talking about Meredith being sick and became worried that her mom was going to die. Amelia and Maggie later sat down with her and explained to her what was happening. She was worried, but simply said they shouldn't tell Bailey and Ellis unless they had to, because they were too young to understand. ("Helplessly Hoping")

Shortly after Andrew died, Zola, Bailey, and Ellis had a dance party in the backyard while the grieving adults supervised and tried to figure out how to tell the kids, who had loved Andrew. Zola also later talked to Amelia about living forever and if they'd choose it or not. Zola said if she could create a medicine that would make someone live forever, she'd give it to her mom. ("It's All Too Much")

Play Date[]

Zola, Bailey, Ellis, Leo, Allison, and Scout all had a play date together with Teddy and Amelia supervising. They spent most of the day outside, playing on their play set. At the end of the day, Owen came over and told Zola that they'd taken Meredith off the ventilator and she was breathing on her own. Zola happily spread the information to the other kids. ("Breathe")

Visiting Mt. Rainier[]

Later, Eric and Maureen Lincoln bought an RV, packed it with supplies, and drove it from Colorado to Seattle. For two weeks, they had no contact with anyone but each other. When they arrived in Seattle, they were excited to meet Scout and offered to take all four kids to see Mt. Rainier so Amelia and Link could have some time to themselves. ("Sorry Doesn't Always Make It Right")

Meredith Waking Up[]

Zola increasingly struggled with her mom being sick, especially after the death of George Floyd. She knew Meredith would be angry as well, but told Maggie she didn't want to go to any protests without her mom. One day, after learning she signed out of her math class early, Maggie talked to Zola about her struggles and encouraged her to scream to express how she was feeling. Later, Winston had the idea to sneak Zola into Meredith's hospital room in the hopes it would encourage her to wake up. After putting Zola in PPE, they walked her through to Meredith's room. She stood by Meredith's bedside and spoke to her until she woke up, then hugged her happily. ("Good as Hell")

After her pulmonary studies showed a remarkable improvement in her lung capacity and her labs came out clear, Meredith was discharged from the hospital. Instead of leaving to a fanfare, she had Jackson slip her out the back and drop her off at home, where her kids greeted her happily. Because she hadn't told anyone she was coming, the kids' welcome home poster was unfinished, but she appreciated it anyway and asked her kids to tell her everything that had happened while she was gone. ("Tradition")

Christmas[]

Meredith, Amelia, Link, Owen, and Teddy spent Christmas together with all their children. At this celebration, Owen proposed to Teddy for the second time and she accepted. ("Someone Saved My Life Tonight")

Maggie and Winston's Wedding[]

In August of 2020, Zola attended Maggie and Winston's backyard wedding. However, at the wedding, Maggie's father and Winston's grandmother opposed the wedding, wanting to wait until more people could attend, so the wedding was postponed. In April 2021, a new wedding was planned and they all attended. Zola helped her mother spread flower petals on the beach in preparation for the wedding and then she walked down the aisle with her mother and siblings to spread more flower petals at the start of the ceremony. During the reception Zola, along with both of her siblings, held engagement rings for Link as he proposed to Amelia on the beach after the ceremony. ("Someone Saved My Life Tonight")

Relationships[]

Familial[]

Parents[]

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")

Siblings[]

After her brother Bailey was born, Meredith said Zola wanted to take him to daycare to show him off. ("Seal Our Fate") Zola has been shown to be very protective of her younger siblings and asked her aunts not to tell them bad news about their mom's condition when she was sick with COVID-19 unless they absolutely had to. ("Helplessly Hoping")

Friendships[]

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") They frequently had play dates together when they were little and have been seen playing together on multiple occassions and at family events such as birthdays and weddings.

Notes and Trivia[]

  • 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]
  • Lexie was Zola's legal guardian in the event that something happened to her parents until her untimely death. Her parents later appointed someone else in the family as guardian but it is not specified who.[5]
  • Sometimes her parents bring her to the gallery to watch surgeries and she seems to enjoy it.[6]
  • After seeing a lion loose in Seattle, Derek bought her a stuffed lion toy.[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • She is left-handed.[9]
  • She dressed as a butterfly for Halloween twice.[10][11]
  • Zola liked to stick things up her nose.[12]
  • When her father asked her what she wanted from Washington, DC, she responded "a car".
  • She and Sofia attended the same school.[13]
  • 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.[14]
  • She once busted open her knee and had to get three stitches. In exchange, she got three lollipops.[15]
  • She wants to become a neurosurgeon like her father.[16]
  • As a baby, she liked green pacifiers.[17]
  • Her adoption case number was KC2009481.[18]
  • She sits in her closet sometimes and writes letters to her dad in her journal.[19]

Gallery[]

Episodic[]

Episode Stills[]

Appearances[]


References[]

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