Emma Cairns arrived in Emmerdale in February 1997 with her family as the youngest child and daughter of Tony and Becky Cairns, heavily pregnant. She gave birth to her daughter Geri a month later. Her father Tony wanted her to have Geri adopted, to which Emma went along with. However, she reversed her decision when she grew close to her baby daughter. The father was later revealed to be Greg Cox, the ex-boyfriend of her sister Charlie. This led to Charlie being devastated, and she disowned her sister in July 1997. Charlie then left Emmerdale a mere few months after arriving. Emma's parents left for Germany in April 1998. Emma stayed on in Emmerdale alongside her brother Will. Emma got into a feud with fellow teenager Paulette Lewis. Paulette even threatened Emma. In August 1998, Emma decided to join her parents in Germany and a leaving party was held for her. Her brother Will joined them the following January.