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Zola Grey Shepherd

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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.


Health ProblemsEdit

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")


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 disraught, 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 cancelled, 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 BirthdayEdit

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 cancelled, they used the cake Meredith made for the birthday to celebrate that instead. ("Hope for the Hopeless")

Getting SickEdit

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 bumble bee costume. ("Moment of Truth")

Planned Move and Plane CrashEdit

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 MappingEdit

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 AccidentEdit

While at day care, 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")


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 VisitEdit

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 DCEdit

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 DeathEdit

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 saves Meredith and EllisEdit

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 SeattleEdit

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 AttackEdit

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")




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 because 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 ShepherdEdit

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


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 TriviaEdit

  • She started to walk shortly after being returned to Meredith and Derek, to the great delight of her parents. ("This Magic Moment")
  • She really likes her toy giraffe. Meredith first mentioned this when Janet had to take her, ("She's Gone") Then, Meredith tried to have her walk by handing the giraffe to Derek so that she would try to reach it. ("This Magic Moment")
  • While her parents are at work, she spends her time in the daycare at the hospital; her mother said to Dr. Ben Warren that she likes it very much. ("This Magic Moment")
  • Sometimes her parents bring her to the gallery to watch surgeries and she seems to enjoy it. ("This Magic Moment")
  • After seeing a lion loose in Seattle, Derek bought her a stuffed lion toy. ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight")
  • Her godmother is Cristina Yang.
  • She has a bumble bee costume, which she wore after vomiting on all her other clothes when she was sick.
  • 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. ("Do You Believe in Magic")
  • She is left-handed. ("Map of You")
  • She dressed as a butterfly for Halloween.
  • Derek stated that Zola likes to stick things up her nose. ("Change of Heart")
  • When her father asked her what she wanted from Washington, DC, she responded "a car".
  • She and Sofia attend the same school. ("Mama Tried")
  • 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. If this is true, this places her birthday at around February or March, so she is likely in first grade like Sofia.
  • When she was young, sometimes stuck crayons up her nose.
  • Zola loved playing cards.



Grey's Anatomy, Season 7

White Wedding · I Will Survive · Unaccompanied Minor

Grey's Anatomy, Season 8

Free Falling · She's Gone · Love, Loss and Legacy · Suddenly · This Magic Moment · Hope for the Hopeless · If/Then · All You Need is Love · If Only You Were Lonely · The Lion Sleeps Tonight · Support System · The Girl with No Name · Moment of Truth

Grey's Anatomy, Season 9

Going, Going, Gone · Remember the Time · I Saw Her Standing There · Beautiful Doom · This is Why We Fight · Can't Fight This Feeling · Do You Believe in Magic · Perfect Storm

Grey's Anatomy, Season 10

Seal Our Fate · I Want You With Me · Everybody's Crying Mercy · Puttin' on the Ritz · I Bet It Stung · Map of You · Thriller · Do You Know? · I'm Winning · Change of Heart

Grey's Anatomy, Season 11

Puzzle With a Piece Missing · Where Do We Go From Here · The Bed's Too Big Without You · When I Grow Up · How to Save a Life · She's Leaving Home · Time Stops

Grey's Anatomy, Season 12

The Sound of Silence · When It Hurts So Bad · Trigger Happy · You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side

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